Note – These reviews usually refrain from spoiling any major details of the movie being reviewed, however with sequels it can sometimes be impossible to discuss the setup for a movie without potentially ruining plot points from the previous film. This is usually not an issue as sequels are normally released several years after the previous movie. However, in this instance, this is a movie that was released only a week after the previous movie. Because of this it’s worth noting that this review of Fear Street Part 3: 1666, might spoil some plot elements of the previous two installments that were just released.
One of the really interesting things about this movie is that it can, with a great amount of confidence, assume that you’ve already seen the first two Fear Street movies. Usually, a second or third movie in a series has to be careful with how much it relies on plot from earlier installments in the series. It doesn’t want to bore anybody rehashing all of the things that they already know, yet at the same time, it has to assume that at least some of the audience hasn’t seen the earlier movies. It’s a fine line to walk making sure that your movie doesn’t confuse people, while at the same time making sure that loyal fans who have watched everything feel rewarded for their devotion to your series.
Fear Street is different though. If you want to watch the third movie, the way to do that (subscribe to Netflix) gives you access to the first two movies. This isn’t a situation where you never got around to watching the last one, or some bizarre streaming rights issue makes one of the movies in the series unavailable. The first two movies are right there. Which means that Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is in an unusual position where it’s almost guaranteed that anybody tuning into the movie will be all caught up.
This is part of the reason that this feels like a further blurring of the lines between what is a movie and what is a TV show. Yes this is three movies, each feature length and each having a distinct feel, but it’s set up like a Netflix show, with skippable recaps at the beginning of each “episode,” unresolved storylines flowing through the entire series, and now easily bingeable with all three parts having been released. This isn’t to set up a hot take that Fear Street has actually been a TV show the whole time and not a movie trilogy, but as the entertainment industry continues to experiment with what does or doesn’t grab your attention, the clear definitions that we use to describe what we’re watching are going to continue to get fuzzier.
Fear Street Part 3: 1666, moves us all the way back in time to the beginning of the story, and the origin of the curse that’s been plaguing the heroes of the previous two installments. However, in a change of pace for the story that might not officially be a twist, but is certainly a hard left turn, the protagonist for the third part of the story is Sarah Fier, the witch that was supposedly responsible for all of the mystery the town of Shadyside had suffered for the past three hundred years.
The casting for this third part is made up of the same collection of actors from the first two parts, playing new roles, though there are clear connections between the actor’s 1666 role and whatever part they played in part one or two of the trilogy. Sadie Sink and Emily Rudd play sisters, just as they did in Fear Street Part 2. In both Part 1 and this movie Julia Rehwald plays a character who deals mind altering substances to the rest of the community.
The casting for this installment offers a more performative take on the events that are depicted in this movie, compared to the other two. Because we’re familiar with the faces of these actors, its easy to look for and find these connections. It presents an effect of a troupe of actors putting on a play, with each performer once again filling the role that suits them best. We’re able to use the casting as a shorthand to explain who these new characters are which is noteworthy when it comes to the portrayal of the main character, Sarah Fier in this movie.
Fier is played by Kiana Madeira who played Deena, the main character of Fear Street Part 1, and the bookends of the second installment. The movie however makes it clear that while we’re seeing the face of Madeira on the screen, and we’re seeing the events of Sarah Fier’s life, Madeira is also playing Deena at the same time. We’re watching Deena experience the events unfold as Sarah Fier. It’s a unique storytelling element that allows the events of the third movie to play out in a kind of confession. It’s everything we’ve not known watching the first two movies being unfolded now.
The casting choices for this movie, in addition to this, give this movie a feeling of promises kept. This trilogy (and those who worked to create it, including the actors) had a story to tell, and because you, the audience, have been patiently watching this far, here is everything you need. It’s a movie full of payoff, that doesn’t even have to worry about the setup since it can safely assume that you’ve already seen all the setup in the first two parts. This third part even retroactively improves certain parts of the previous two movies. Small plot holes that were annoying but not a big deal, turned out to not be plot holes at all, just things we didn’t have all the information for yet.
The Fear Street Trilogy has been a unique experience. What could have been just a series of scary movies ended up being so much more. It got to build out it’s own mythology, play with the slight variations in tropes that have evolved over the years, be its own sequel and it’s own prequel. On top of all that, It managed to put out three solid horror films over the span of three weeks. Going forward, fans will get to debate which movie was the best one, (a debate that will largely come down to time period aesthetic preferences) but looking at the saga as a whole, it great to see something in the horror genre swing for the fences like this and pull it off so well.